The Portuguese and in particular the natives of LISBON (yes all 3 million of them) love Sintra. Join us on our day trip to find out why.
Set in lush forest, crowned with a Moorish Castle and the home of a royal palace, World Heritage Listed Sintra is known as the Jewel of Portugal. The fact that it is definitely a fully fledged tourist village did not diminish our enjoyment of the day.
These two well known Portuguese symbols can be purchased in many forms throughout Portugal, these two found in Sintra.
The Cock of Barcelos. Azulejos – Decorative Ceramic Tiles.
Apart from the afore-mentioned millions, many others have enjoyed Sintra over the years.
- The Romans worshipped the Moon Goddess here and named the site Cynthia.
- Then the Moors arrived and were so enamoured by the lush vegetation, that they built a hilltop castle, a palace and fountains.
- When the Portuguese Royal family took up summer residence in the former Moorish Palace, many wealthy aristocrats arrived to build mansions and villas.
The best way to arrive in Sintra from Lisbon today, is by train from Rossio Station. This wonderful old station (1887), recognized by it’s purple horseshoe shaped doorways, is situated between the busy Restauradores Square and Rossio, the elegant main square of Lisbon. I tell you this, because even following directions from the tourist centre, we took a while to find it.
The train starts it’s journey in an underground tunnel built in 1890, but surfaces before the first station.
Rossio Train Station, Lisbon.
5 Euro each, and forty minutes later we arrived at our stop – the line terminus. No need to worry about peak hour madness because while the crowds are heading in to Lisbon, Sintra visitors are heading away, and vice versa. Not that we had managed to be early enough for peak hour.
On arrival there was a bus to the town centre, but instead we took the 1.4 km slightly uphill walk. In Spring 2012, skies were sunny, views tantalizing and the path, lined with sculptures.
Photos are in order from the train station.
Random Old Gate, Path and House.
Town Hall. 1910.
A royal palace since the twelfth century, but originally built by the Moors in the Tenth Century, the twin conical kitchen chimney cones of the Royal Palace, below, are the town’s most famous landmark. (This palace is situated in the town proper and is not to be confused with the Pena National Palace which together with the Moorish Castle Ruins perch on a hilltop overlooking the town).
I can’t help thinking that with a fall of chiffon from the palace chimney peaks, they could be turned into giant medieval princess hats. Actually, I think the people of Sintra should do this on an appropriate occasion like a Medieval festival!
After the revolution of 1910, the palace became a national monument and today it houses the world’s most extensive collection of Mudejar ceramic glazed tiles. (Mudejar being the name given to Muslims who kept their faith but stayed after the Christians took power).
The path was lined with Statues.
A glimpse of Sintra through the trees.
I have saved my favourite Statue till last.
There were many more statues of varying subjects, but I chose a feminine theme.
Join me next week for more on The Jewel in Portugal’s Crown.
Things to Know and Budget Tips.
As a medieval town Sintra was not built for vehicles. In June the streets are blocked with cars and there is little parking. If you are not coming from Lisbon where trains/buses (buses have their own parking area) are the best options, read this for Sintra PARKING information. If you can not get into a free park, you would have to return every two hours to pay for more parking.
Prices are more expensive than in Lisbon, but we were happy to pay for our Pastel de Nata and coffee.
Avoid visiting “The Jewel” on week-ends and public holidays if you do not like crowds. Monday 28/5/2012 had minimal crowds.
Which statue was your favourite?